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Remembering our brave frontline officers who lost their lives

Published date: Friday 30 November 2018

Prison staff, friends and families are gathering across the state today for Corrective Services NSW Remembrance Day, which commemorates frontline officers who fell in the line of duty.

The annual event also marks the lives of staff who died from other causes while still employed, and those who passed away after retiring. 

Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin said the day was about remembering those who lost their lives while on duty and acknowledging the dangerous job officers do. 

“On CSNSW Remembrance Day we gather with great pride and heavy hearts to commemorate those who were killed while serving the state,” Commissioner Severin said. 

“It is a sober reminder that their safety can never be taken for granted.

“We also honour the dedicated staff who carry-out this critical and challenging work every day with some of the most dangerous and unpredictable offenders.” 

Minister for Corrections David Elliott extended condolences to the fallen officers’ families, recognising the devastating loss they have had to endure. 

“Today we pause to solemnly commemorate those who were taken from us while working to protect the community. Their ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten,” Minister Elliott said.

Twelve officers have been killed in the past 176 years by inmates with weapons including guns, hammers, axes, iron bars, baseball bats and even an HIV-infected syringe.

The first officer killed on duty was Henry Kingsmill Abbott at Parramatta Gaol in 1842. Courageously standing his ground to foil an escape, he was brutally shot by prisoners.

More recently, CSNSW lost Wayne Harold Smith, who was attacked by an inmate at Silverwater Correctional Centre in December 2006. Officer Smith sustained severe head injuries and died in hospital on 25 January 2007. He will be remembered today, along with other correctional officers who have died, at a memorial service at Brush Farm Corrective Services Academy, in Sydney’s North West. 

The full list of valiant officers who died in the line of duty and will be remembered today are:

Henry Kingsmill Abbott at Parramatta in 1842;
Thomas Craig at Berrima in 1862;
Officer John Carroll at Braidwood in 1867;
George Spinks at Windsor in 1869; 
John Sutherland Brown at Cootamundra in 1908; 
Alan Cooper at Bathurst in 1958; 
Albert Hedges at Berrima in 1959; 
Cecil Mills at Emu Plains in 1959; 
Willy Karl Faber at Parramatta in 1978; 
John Colin Mewburn at Long Bay in 1979;
Geoffrey Pearce OAM, who died in 1997 as a result of an attack at Long Bay; and
Wayne Harold Smith, who died in 2007 as a result of an attack at Silverwater.